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Editor's Note
June 2014

Ensuring Correct Interpretation of Diagnostic Test Results

JAMA Intern Med. 2014;174(6):993. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.165

Today, physicians order a wide array of diagnostic laboratory and imaging tests for their patients, including genetic evaluations. To make sense of the growing number of diagnostic testing opportunities, one might expect that physicians, in turn, have grown in their ability to accurately interpret test results. The Research Letter by Manrai and colleagues1 finds this not to be the case. They replicated a classic study and found that only 23% of physicians and physicians-in-training correctly answered a single question testing their interpretation of a diagnostic test result. While this study was limited to a convenience sample from a single academic teaching hospital, it is not too far out on a limb to suggest that today’s physicians need to be better prepared to interpret diagnostic test results, including stronger training in statistics and clinical epidemiology.

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